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Many have expressed distress at the confirmation of many of President Donald Trump's cabinet picks because of their disdain of the Agencies they have been charged with running. The best example is Scott Pruitt, Trump's pick to head the EPA and an open critic of its usefulness.

More recently, Betsy DeVos was chosen to be the Secretary of Education despite concerns that she does not support the public school system or have much experience with it. Some are calling her support for charter schools, a growing alternative to public education, as a conflict of interest much like Pruitt's.

Does the Secretary of Education have to support public education as part of their job or is their job simply to push for better education standards in the nation using whatever methods they think best?

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    Can you post a link where someone said conflict of interests in relation to this? – K Dog Feb 7 '17 at 20:34
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The Department of Education was created by the Department of Education Organization Act (1979). The description of the Secretary's role is:

The Department shall be administered, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, under the
supervision and direction of a Secretary of Education.

The Secretary's job is to run the Department of Education. They are not bound by any particular policy choice, except ones that would violate the law.

Furthermore, the goals of the Department do not include supporting public education. Their goals are (via the originating statute):

(1) to strengthen the Federal commitment to ensuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual;

(2) to supplement and complement the efforts of States, the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the States, the private sector, public and private educational institutions, public and private nonprofit educational research institutions, community-based organizations, parents, and students to im- prove the quality of education;

(3) to encourage the increased involvement of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs;

(4) to promote improvements in the quality and usefulness of education through federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information;

(5) to improve the coordination of Federal education programs;

(6) to improve the management and efficiency of Federal education activities, especially with respect to the process, procedures, and administrative structures for the dispersal of Federal funds, as well as the reduction of unnecessary and duplicative burdens and constraints, including unnecessary paperwork, on the recipients of Federal funds; and

(7) to increase the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress, and the public.

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    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, +1 – K Dog Feb 7 '17 at 21:15
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    isnt that what i said? "Would you argue a private system suffices to 'supplement' the public system if it proves more or equally effective?" – Brad Ford Feb 7 '17 at 21:38
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    You seem to have misread this. It is not only to "supplement the efforts of States," but to supplement the efforts of all the other named entities. – Michael Hampton Feb 7 '17 at 22:16
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    Isn't the most important part (1)? "Every individual" includes people who cannot afford private education. If you want to make grants so everyone can attend a private school, you've just shuffled costs and names - you're effectively making a public school. Unless the argument really is semantics, and not that everyone deserves an equal education. – SBoss Feb 8 '17 at 8:39
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    @SBoss a private school where tuition for some (or even all) students is paid by government funds is not identical to a public school - public and private schools in the US can be quite radically different from each other. You could argue that public and charter schools are not that different, but that is dependent upon the locality and how rigidly and thoroughly the school board mandates every aspect of the school. Private schools are generally free of such micromanagement. – pluckedkiwi Feb 8 '17 at 14:40
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The President of the United States sets the job descriptions of the cabinet.

Does the Secretary of Education have to support public education as part of their job

No.

or is their job simply to push for better education standards in the nation using whatever methods they think best?

No. Their job is not necessarily to "push for better education standards."

Every cabinet Secretary serves at the pleasure of the president. They take their direction from the president. They implement the agenda of the POTUS.

Many presidential candidates have run on the platform of limiting the size and scope of the federal government. Many have felt the federal government is too large and does not have a proper role doing many of the things it currently does. And, therefore, have proposed greatly reducing or altogether eliminating certain cabinet departments.

Let's take the Department of Education as an example (since that's the department you asked about). Many people believe education is best run at the local level because school boards and school officials better serve the public when they are able to be held accountable by the local community they serve; when the decision-makers have local roots, many believe they do a better job than a monolithic federal bureaucracy hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Accordingly, many people believe the DoEd should be eliminated. Similar logic applies to several other cabinet departments.

With that in mind, it is not surprising that the cabinet Secretary would oppose the very existence of the cabinet department they run if the president's objective is to eliminate the department or greatly reduce its size and scope.

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    So you think the 'conflict of interest' charges are mostly rhetoric by those who are worried about her intentions? More of a misuse of a buzzword than a meaningful critique? – Brad Ford Feb 7 '17 at 20:18
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    Also, consider the context that some cabinet departments weren't envisioned by the founding fathers. The Dept of Ed, for example, started in 1980. As happens with many government programs, over time its mission changes and grows until it bears little resemblance to the original reason for creating it. New presidents sometimes decide that a reset is needed to move a department back to its intended purpose. – user11810 Feb 7 '17 at 20:24
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    @BradFord Conflict of interest is something else entirely. A conflict of interest would arise if the cabinet secretary also was a published author and mandated all school kids buy their book. – Jeff Lambert Feb 7 '17 at 22:08
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    @fixer1234 The phenomenon of mission creep has been codified by Jerry Pournelle as his eponymous Iron Law of Bureacracy jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/iron.html: In short, it states that the people who rise to power within an organization, and therefore control its behavior, are those dedicated to the organization itself, rather than its stated objective. – Monty Harder Feb 8 '17 at 18:28
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The answer is no, there is no requirement for a DoEd Secretary to support public schools.

This question misunderstands the reasons the Department of Education exists, it's core mission, and the role of the federal government in education generally. The mission is

Congress established the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on May 4, 1980, in the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88 of October 1979). Under this law, ED's mission is to:

Strengthen the Federal commitment to assuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual;

Supplement and complement the efforts of states, the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the states, the private sector, public and private nonprofit educational research institutions, community-based organizations, parents, and students to improve the quality of education;

Encourage the increased involvement of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs;

Promote improvements in the quality and usefulness of education through Federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information;

Improve the coordination of Federal education programs;

Improve the management of Federal education activities; and

Increase the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress, and the public.

If anything, given the repeat failure of some public schools to deliver anything like a quality education, I would think it incumbent on the Secretary to have an open mind about alternative ways to deliver that education and that would be consistent with the quality mandate.

The Secretary has come under scrutiny for her lack of candor on her required financial disclosure forms and related testimony. That could potentially lead to a conflict of interest down the road. However, it's her massive financial holdings that would so activate the conflict, not her position on public schools.

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    I just posted an answer with an almost identical quote, not realizing you had done it. I found it in the law creating the Department, but it looks like you found it through their mission statement. – indigochild Feb 7 '17 at 21:05
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The question is still a little vague. It appears you are asking about the role of the position (which the other two questions answer nicely) but the body of your question, and your subsequent comments seem focused on the conflict of interest aspect.

That is a separate issue from what she feels her role should be in her position.

The conflicts of interest issue is about personal financial conflicts. If you are in a position of power and able to affect policies that could directly benefit your outside investments, that's a conflict of interest.

Like Trump, specific conflicts are not necessarily the concern at the moment as it's been hard to get that information. The main issue at the moment is the appearance of conflicts, combined with the fact that she hasn't fully disclosed them at this time.

The Hill has an article that covers some of these potential financial conflicts.

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Does the Secretary of Education have to support public education as part of their job

The teachers. Unions would have you think so.

The doed mandate is better education and better access. Public schools are just one of many possible ways to get us there. Private schools or charter schools, if effective, are perfectly good means.

As long as the goal is better access and better education fire our kids.

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    You might want to proofread this answer. It's full of typos – user4012 Feb 7 '17 at 21:43

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